I’ve been meaning to check out Lynn Crawford’s Ruby Watchco for a long time. After months of my mom’s ravings about this place, I figured it must be worth a shot. Small problem: they serve a set menu, family-style, every night. So not only do you have to coordinate with your group on which restaurant, which night, which time… but you have to ensure that the meal is up to everyone’s standards as well. Yes, Ruby Watchco does accommodate food allergies & dietary restrictions, but ultimately it’s sort of like going to someone’s house for dinner. Joanne Kates, for one, is not a fan of this concept. Sure, don’t people go to restaurants so that they can choose from a wide array of options? Everybody has their tastes, which is fine. But maybe this concept is a good thing – after all, it pushes you to try out dishes that you might not necessarily choose on your own accord. As my dad used to say to my picky 7-year-old self: “Just try it, because it might become your favourite new food!”
So it was only appropriate that I first ventured to Ruby Watchco for my dad’s birthday.
You couldn’t ask for a better ambiance or friendlier service at this place. Situated in the trendy Leslieville neighbourhood, Ruby Watcho’s long, narrow dining room has just the right level of kitsch and exposed brick. We were greeted right away and our server tended to our beer & wine needs while we waited for the food to start coming out.
We started with the arugula & oven kissed grape salad, which was much more than your standard salad. Combining Sleger’s Living greens, charred radicchio, romaine hearts, toasted almonds, 10-year-old Ottawa Valley cheddar, finished with a balsamic dressing, this dish was burtsting with flavour.
Next was the main: a leg of lamb served with mint chimichurri. The lamb was cooked perfectly, but the side dishes really stood out in particular. They included a charred Roma tomato, cucumber & feta dish; spaghetti squash with walnut pesto; and sweet potato & lamb rib hash with scallion aioli. That last dish, in particular, was really memorable – the crispy morsels of lamb mixed with piping hot sweet potato was a match made in heaven.
The artisan cheese course was a nice touch, of course, but not particularly mind-blowing. And unfortunately, I was not a huge fan of the dessert: candied orange upside down spice cake with sweet vanilla cream & candied hazelnuts. In fact, I barely touched it.
But 3/4 ain’t bad, right? And at a $49 per person price (plus beer, wine & tip, evened out to about $85 per person), you’re certainly getting a lot of bang for your buck.
I will definitely be back to Ruby Watchco. It just may take some time for the right menu to come along again.